Tips for Graceful Aging

By Dr. Gerard Muraida

As I have reached Medicare age, I can see that there are changes to my lifestyle that need to be made if I am to age gracefully. Restful sleep is the key to having enough energy to carry out a day’s work. So, let’s begin there.

During sleep, the brain cleans house. Toxins are removed and neural cells are obtaining much-needed repair work. You might equate sleep to a nightly overhaul for our thinking machine. Proper sleep improves our ability to store memories, handle emotional stress, and even control the production of vital hormones throughout the body. How much sleep is enough? Seven to eight hours is the recommended amount for restorative sleep to occur. To get more restful sleep, avoid exercise and alcohol within two hours of bedtime, and avoid screen time including television, computers, tablets, and cell phones. Blue light filters can be helpful.

Aging gracefully doesn’t mean you have to return to the fountain of youth or appear to be 20-something. Immobility is the enemy. Stay active in any way you can tolerate. Studies suggest two and one-half to five hours per week of moderate intensity exercise will positively impact your health. Walking or dancing are safe ways to accomplish this. Swimming and cycling have also been recommended. Weight training has been shown to improve body mass and build bone strength. Balance exercises are beneficial as well.

Take care of your skin. In New Mexico’s dry climate, skin can become quite dehydrated. Use lotions after a bath to help replenish your skin. Apply sunscreen when going outdoors, and avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day, 11 a.m. to 5 pm.

Drink plenty of water. If you have cardiac conditions, contact your health care provider to discuss what adequate water intake is for you.

Smoking has been associated with premature wrinkling of the skin. Talk to your health care provider about the many options there are to quit smoking.

Reduce your stress. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, Qigong, meditation, and even simple conversations with friends.

Diet is as important as any of the preceding tips, but know that no single diet is perfect. Moderation and balanced meals are vital for good health.

Be mindful of all your medicines and their effects on any activity you might be interested in.

Before trying any new nutritional or movement program, please consult your health care provider.

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